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I'm newly converted audiophile and new to the forum but looking forward to contributing.
I've recently run into a problem regarding hi-rez audio.
Currently I run a Cambridge Audio CXA60 powering a pair of Triangle Titus EZ Esprit. As the source I am using a Google Chromecast Audio, optical line out into the CXA's DAC and streaming Tidal Hifi exclusively from a Macbook Air or Ipad 3, (all music on my computer is from ages ago MP3's etc, before I was enlightened). Sounds pretty damn good, much better than anything I was previously used too..
However.. now Tidal has started releasing the Master MQA and I have a dilemma. I can't stream the MQA via the chromecast but I can't connect the Macbook Air/Ipad as neither has an optical out and the CXA60 doesn't have a USB in (and may not process MQA anyway).
Reading around a bit I figure I have a few options
1. Buy a Bluesound Node 2
2. Buy a USB MQA comaptible DAC and take a line out from that
3. Wait a bit and see what happens with the new tech (hard)
Any thoughts on which would be best or sound quality/practicality/future use etc
If you were getting music from your Mac before, you should be able to stream Tidal the same way.
I don't know anything about your Mac, but to access Tidal Masters you need to use there desktop app. For now they say it won't work on a tablet or phone.
So, if you have a laptop and the Tidal app, you can stream partially unfolded MQA, it will come as 24/88 or 24/96. That is providing your dac can handle those higher than CD resolutions. My guess is your Chromecast might be limited in resolution.
If your laptop has an optical out run that straight into the dac.
Other options are a usb to spdif (optical, rca coax) converter or a new dac. The Meridian Explorer is full MQA and sells for $200.
Any suggestions on a decent USB to s/pdif converter? I suppose my concern is that this is so new that if I invest in a new DAC now the technology may open up in the next few months and the options will change..
Is there an error in your question? You say:
" I can't stream the MQA via the chromecast but I can't connect the Macbook Air/Ipad "
Should that first "can't" read " can" . The "but etc." following suggests that it should ( if both can'ts are correct then the right word would be "and").
I have no knowledge of Chromecast but Tidal via Chrome per se allows the processing of the first "fold" in MQA to be done in the online player. That does not therefore require an MQA equipped DAC. So with MQA encoded tracks using just the online player you effectively get 24/96 resolution.Which is going to be the majority of what is on offer anyway.
Your question seems, accordingly, to be about connectivity. But you say that " I am using a Google Chromecast Audio, optical line out into the CXA's DAC " So what is the difference that stops you continuing to do this? That is you are telling us that on the one hand you connect by optical and on the other you that can't do this.
Apologies, I meant I can't stream MQA via chromecast (tidal have confirmed that this is not currently possible) AND I can't connect the Macbook Air or Ipad due to lack of optical output from the mac's and lack of USB input in the Cambridge. Therefore I can't get the MQA music from the computer to the amp. Make more sense now?
Thanks for the clarification.
It is not possible to get MQA if the file streamed from Tidal is reformatted in any way which it may be by the Chromecast device. Same with Bluetooth I would think as that uses a codec too.
So , on the face of it, what you wnat to do requires another solution using another way of accessing Tidal where its output is not reformatted in any way which seems to me requires a hard wired solution.
The obvious way is to use a USB output on the Macbook Air and connect that to a DAC. In fact to the DAC in your Cambridge amp. The review link posted shows a rear view of the CXA60 and there is a USB input. I wonder if Cambridge have updated an earlier version that you have without the USB? The review is of a 2016 model.
If you really don't have USB on your amp then you will need either a USB DAC or a USB/co-ax (SPdif) converter and use the co-ax input on the amp. remember the DAC in your amp does not need to decode MQA. That is done within the Tidal player app (at least up to 24/96).
That is probably the best way but you could also connect the headphone output from the i-pad to an analogue input on your amp. that would use the i-pad's inbuilt DAC but I don't like it as much as using the amp's DAC for various reasons. However it is a cheap solution.
USB/SPDif converters are available at many price points. So to recommend one it would be good to have some idea of any financial constraint.
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